Taking the next step in photography usually means getting a nicer camera than the one that's on your smartphone or a pocket-sized point-and-shoot. Now back in the day if you were really serious this meant getting a DSLR, the big fat camera that looks all professional, with more features, larger image sensors and the ability to change out lenses to best match what you're doing. But in the past few years, Mirrorless Cameras have started to really rival DSLRs.
Discover the new generation of Mirrorless Cameras
Choosing your first Mirrorless Camera in 2018 could be a daunting task mainly because there are so many options starting with sensor size to video capabilities and more. Therefore I created a separate guide for you where I'm going to give you more detailed information about the thing you should consider while choosing your camera as well as my personal advice. I think that upgrading your camera gear is always an exciting experience, so I'm ready to help you make an informed decision.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Sony A6000
- Fast AF System
- Olympus E-M10 Mark III
- Compact and Stylish
- Fujifilm X-T2
- Excellent Image Quality
Ultimate Guide to Buying Professional Mirrorless Camera
In the following Guide, we are going to look at Different Lens Sytems, Viewfinders, Sensors, Autofocus Systems and Video Capabilities of new cameras.
Since we are looking for a camera for all-purpose I decided to divide the article into three categories to keep the balance between price and quality. That way everyone can find best mirrorless camera depending on their needs.
Best Mirrorless Camera For Beginners
The Sony a6000 from the day of its release has been the best budget mirrorless camera, which is still true in 2017. So with 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor, 11 frames per second burst, great Wi-Fi, and full 1080p recording it has no other alternative on the market especially considering its price. There are also new versions available in the Alpha series like; a6300 or a6500 but the price difference doesn't justify the feature improvement which comes with extra money.
The build quality of a6000 is exceptionally good with perfect ergonomics, to provide nice support during the shooting. The camera also features electronic viewfinder and a sharp LCD screen which can be used for checking exposure and focus. Plus the 24.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor gives the options to shoot in 24, 30 or 60 frames per second in full 1080p and you also get Focus Peaking and Zebras. In addition, a6000 comes with Sony E-mount system, so you can get focal reducer or speed booster to turn this device into a mini full frame camera. And in case if you like to get a zoomed-in image without degrading the quality of your photos you can take advantage of Clear Image Zoom.
One of the main advantages of Sony is that It's actually pretty good in low-light conditions, with ISO range of 100-25600 that can be expanded to 51200. Obviously, it's not going to be as good as Sony a7S but it actually produces some pretty good images as well as video. The camera shoots in AVCHD or XAVC S as well as in lower quality MP4 format which I would never recommend using. The XAVC S codec is actually a newer feature that became available after the new firmware update. The XAVC S codec is actually pretty nice which gives the option to record full HD 1080p video at 60, 30 and 24 fps in high-quality 50 Mbps, which is the broadcast standard data rate. Plus you have to keep in mind that if you really want to use this new format you would probably going to need much faster memory cards.
The battery life is something that a lot of people don't like but it's worth noting that with Sony a6000 you can get about 45-minutes to 1-hour on a single charge, which is perfectly sufficient for beginners. Plus you can buy extra batteries and get an acceptable runtime to film the entire day without needing an extra power source.
In conclusion, if you're looking for a small, affordable camera with a large sensor that can take really nice images in low-light and record quality video then you should definitely try Sony a6000. Everything that's wrong with this camera can be fixed and it really just comes down to your personal preference or the type of work you have to do. So if you're looking for image quality over audio options and a flat image profile then I would definitely go for Sony, because no other camera on the market has as many pros as a6000 at this price range.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7
The Panasonic G7 is the best mirrorless camera for beginners that can record in 4K UHD thanks to 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor. It's actually a little brother of Lumix GH4 and provides the same functionality but at less than half the cost. The camera itself is extremely lightweight and compact but more importantly, delivers top performance in any condition.
Now not only does G7 record 4K, but it can record Full 1080p HD at 60 frames per second, which not many traditional DSLRs are capable in the same price range. Plus the main advantage of recording at 60 frames per second is that you can simply slow down the footage to 24 frames per second and create a slow-motion video in the post. Moreover, with the help of a speed booster, it's possible to use different lenses made for Canon or Nikon DSLRs. For instance, Sigma 18-35mm lens which is actually made for Canon APS-C DSLRs, though with a speed booster it can be used on the G7, which is currently one of the most popular lenses among Panasonic users. Plus the speed booster also gives it a faster F-stop so you can really max out the aperture and get that creamy bokeh.
The G7 has a really intuitive menu and fully articulating touchscreen, that works perfectly with a new autofocus system that helps you to adjust your focus while recording video or shooting photos. Plus having a fully articulating screen is a huge advantage for Youtuber's who are looking for a perfect vlogging camera. In addition, the camera also features built-in Wi-Fi and mobile app which enables users to control camera settings remotely. In addition, Panasonic G7 has a built-in microphone input jack along with the hot shoe mount on top, for your favorite external microphone to get the good audio quality because audio is just as important as video.
When it comes to the best budget mirrorless camera the G7 is at the top of the line. Actually, it's hard to find something cheaper than the G7, as it offers everything what you usually get in a premium cameras. You would be impressed with the quality and features that you get out of the box and it's definitely the best in its price range especially for video production.
Best Midrange Mirrorless Camera
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
The E-M10 version of Olympus OM-D series has been a longtime favorite in the mirrorless market, so the newest model in the lineup is still one of the best in the category. Not only does it offer you a host of powerful features but it's also compact and user-friendly. In addition to great form factor, the camera has a tilting screen, great viewfinder, and built-in Wi-Fi, as well as broad range of mirrorless lenses to choose from. Even though it is an entry-level camera it does have quite a few exciting features, but most importantly it offers radical improvement compared to Mark II, addressing all the issues from the previous model. The design here is very similar to the Mark II which means it's small, compact and stylish. Plus you get the retro body in two color variations silver and black. But, the main features of this camera is the ability to record 4k video, tilting LCD screen as well as great-looking 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder that has 100% coverage.
It's worth mentioning that something that hasn't changed is the resolution of the sensor, so there is still a 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor. Considering that this is an entry-level camera I think it's still certainly adequate, but it would be nice to see an upgrade in future models. Going on to what has changed, first of all, the camera now features new TruePic VIII Image Processor that's used on E-M1 Mark II so that's a big increase in power. The next big improvement is the image stabilization. As we all know Olympus's Sensor-shift image stabilization is already the best on the market and they've improved this feature as well on E-M10 Mark III. The following improvement is going to help you shoot in lower light conditions because you can take photos at a much lower shutter speed than you would normally be able to.
Looking at the autofocus it's been bumped up to a 121 Autofocus Points compared to the 81 that was on Mark II, that's about a 50% increase and will definitely help to focus faster and be more responsive. Plus camera does decently well with moving shots but I will say as a caveat this is still a mid-level camera so don't expect this to be amazing. However, it is a definitely a marked improvement over the Mark II and quite functional for entry-level users who are not exclusively into sports photography. lastly, the new E-M10 Mark III has gone through the major improvement in term of video recording, which means that now you can get really In-body 5-axis image stabilization and crisp high-quality 4K video.
My favorite improvement on the E-M10 Mark III is actually a usability improvement. Olympus has added a new shortcut button on the side and they also improved the menu system. So now you can simply press the shortcut button in any mode and be immediately presented with a list of the most common options that you would want to access. In a manual or semi-manual mode that may be like the info panel, but in a scene mode this lets you quickly choose different scene settings as well as more advanced photo modes which were not available in previous models. The menu system was also trimmed down quite a bit by removing some menu options in order to improve usability and create the intuitive menu which is easy to use.
So the E-M10 Mark III is the improved version of the camera which I already thought was pretty good. The main difference is actually the faster Image Processor, better autofocus system, 4K video, a better embody image stabilization and improved grip to make it more comfortable to hold the camera and those really important usability improvements. Overall I think the E-M10 Mark III is one of the best mid-level cameras for someone who's looking for a balance of photo quality, a good feature set of manual controls, large lens selection, and very compact camera body.
The Fujifilm X-T20 is the company's latest mid-range SLR-style mirrorless camera that's geared more towards photography. It features the same 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, used on Fuji's flagship models and improved autofocus system which makes it a great upgrade for users who want to take some amazingly clearer pictures.
The new retro style camera body looks beautiful from every angle and it's not just a pretty face it's made mostly of magnesium alloy so it's super durable. Plus the metallic dials are really well built and they're a pleasure to use. In addition, the camera does have a microphone jack which is great, but it's a 2.5-millimeter connection meaning that all your standard 3.5-millimeter microphones will require an adapter. Another letdown of the XT-20 is the practically inexistent grip which makes for an uncomfortable experience if you have larger hands and for now the only solution you have is to buy one of the many grip adapters sold online. The battery life could be better, it's rated at 350 shots which is not too bad, but if you're planning on filming you'll need additional batteries as it drains them at a much faster rate.
The improved image sensor now takes high-quality images and also records 4k video footage. The X-T20 also features a touchscreen that can be used to position the autofocus point in both Stills and video mode. It's also worth mentioning that Fujifilm’s has the excellent JPEG engine, which makes it easy to get great-looking print ready photos straight from the camera. The X-T20 reps up some of Fujifilm's best imaging technology all provided in a well priced camera body. It's also a great entry point into one of the best lens systems on the market. Moreover, the camera has an amazing articulating display which is touch sensitive and proves to be quite responsive when changing focus or taking a shot. You can also zoom in and flip through your pictures same as you would on your phone. Also, there is an integrated flash to help in low-light situations and even if it's small in size it won't have any problem in eliminating a dark room or a subject at night.
Something to keep in mind is that once you have the camera on a tripod you won't be able to access the battery and memory card slot, meaning that you'll have to take it off the tripod each time you need to change them and if that wasn't frustrating enough the mounting point is not centered with the lens which some photographers might dislike.
In conclusion, if you're looking for a good photography camera the XT-20 is a great choice with its quick startup 325 focus points and a good noise reduction. Overall, you won't find much to complain about, but if you're looking for a capable video camera you might want to skip this one, as it limits 1080p recording to 15 minutes and 4k video to 10 minutes.
Panasonic Lumix G85/G80
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 is a mirrorless camera which has a lot of great features such as 4k video, the second generation 5x image stabilization and the 16-megapixels sensor which eliminates the need for low-pass filters. Actually, it's the successor to the Panasonic G7 and shares its DSLR style design with twin control dials and fully articulating touchscreen.
The camera gains in body 5-Axis image stabilization and Dual I.S. which make it very easy to use for handheld shots or video. Speaking of a video it's 4k capable and has a microphone jack, but no headphone jack. The mic input is somewhat inconveniently located though. One major improvement is the addition of weather and dust sealing, the G85 also gets a dedicated memory card door. The shutter mechanism is now electromagnetic and the front plate is made of magnesium. The G85 features Panasonic's Depth From Defocus technology which provides reliable in-depth and subject tracking. Lastly, the camera has new in-camera focus stacking mode which is fairly easy to use and enables you to select several focus points in the same image.
What I like the most about this models is the power efficiency mode which gives you the option to take around 600 to 800 photos depending on sleep mode settings. This makes it a great choice for photographers because that way you don't miss a single shot. Plus its weather-sealed so you can take it with you anywhere you go without having to worry about the environment. Overall the G85 offers a compelling package and in many ways everything we wanted in G7.
The Sony a6300 is the company's latest mid-range mirrorless camera and although the body and pixel count may sound familiar almost everything has been changed. The camera features 24.2 MP APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor and 425 autofocus points spread across the entire frame for high precision focus and video AF. Even though the styling is similar to a6000, the camera's body is much more substantially built with improved dust and moisture sealing. Moreover, viewfinder gets a resolution bump and the camera can now provide live feed in between shots at up to 8 frames per second. Plus, video shooting capabilities have also been upgraded, so now it's possible to capture 4k video at up to 30 frames per second.
The Sony a6300 has the worlds fastest claimed autofocus with 425 phase detection points and more importantly it is run by Bionz X Image Processor engine, with a wide ISO range of 51200. But most importantly what the tech community has been going crazy about is the ability to record 4k video internally, with full pixel readout and no pixel pinning. It's technically a 6k image being scaled down to 4k and pretty much everything on the spec sheet just screams impressive and in addition to that it also has a microphone port, so obviously, it is the best mid-range mirrorless camera available on the market today.
The camera offers pretty much all of same settings and options as the Sony a7R and a7S but within a reasonable price point. Plus you can use a wide variety of picture profiles, as well as S-Log2 and S-Log3 if you would like to grade your footage. Everything looks amazing and it just really blows me away how much it is able to achieve at such a form factor and price points.
On top of the beautiful video quality, something else that is worth mentioning is the low-light performance and I mean it is very good. So the question still stands is this the best entry level camera? And the answer is Yes. But to be able to enjoy this camera and use it effectively you're going to have to get used to the menus, a bad battery life and the fact that you do not have a touchscreen to navigate the menu. Other than that it's a perfect camera.
Overall Sony Alpha 6300 is a great choice for a beginner photographer or experienced looking for a backup camera but don't want to spend thousands of dollars. Plus it is advertised as the camera with world's fastest autofocus speed of 0.05 seconds and the recent test shows that the following numbers are right. So with new magnesium alloy body and perfect ergonomics a6300 would be your perfect companion in any situation.
Best Mirrorless camera For Professionals
The XT-2 is Fujifilm's flagship mirrorless interchangeable lens camera aimed at hands-on photographers wanting a camera that can deliver good images in many different shooting situations. It comes with a new 24-megapixel X-Trans sensor as well as extensive external controls and the same solid build as the previous generation XT-1. Excellent image quality and superb JPEG color make this a favorite for enthusiasts who prefer traditional controls and the color that Fujifilm cameras are famous for. A broad feature set, updated video, and autofocus systems, as well as large range of compatible lenses, round out the X-T2's capabilities. In addition, Fujifilm's history of continuous improvement and firmware updates reassures us that this camera will stay current.
The camera body looks pretty similar to the XT-1, there's not a huge difference except improved ergonomics and new dials which are a little bit nicer. One thing they have added is the little joystick called the focus lever, that lets you instantly change the focusing point. Plus dual SD card slots both UHS-II compatible, USB 3.0 port and standard 3.5-millimeter microphone input jack. The camera also features a high-resolution 24-megapixel sensor which is comparable to most DSLRs, so if you're a little bit hesitant about going into mirrorless because of the megapixel point that's pretty much gone. Meaning that now you will be able to crop your photos without losing any detail.
The two main things that I consider to be the biggest improvements is the autofocus system and the video. It's worth mentioning that Fujifilm cameras take beautiful photos but are rarely used for sports photography because of their slow AF. The company has definitely been trying to resolve this issue with XT-1 than with X-Pro2 and they've really upped their game in XT-2. So now we have a choice between either 91 or 325 autofocus points as well as continuous autofocus mode which lets you track moving subjects. Plus the system is very reliable and delivers maximum performance in any situation. Like I said previously sports photographers typically have shied away from Fujifilm, but now everything has changed and speaking of action shooting the camera can shoot 14 frames per second with electronic shutter.
The second major area of improvement to the XT-2 is the video. Now the camera can record 4k at 30 frames per second or 1080p at up to 60 frames per second both of those will shoot at 100 megabits per second that's going to give you very high-quality footage. Fuji has also added 4k output via the HDMI port if you want to record to an external recorder. Moreover, you can output the video in F-log profile which is basically Fuji's version of the C-Log which is good for color grading. In addition, you can also use Velvia, Provia and other classic picture profiles to get the cinematic shot on your camera.
Now one caveat that I want to mention is the fact that you can shoot 4K video only for 10 minutes at a time, that's because the battery gets hot. However, if you have a vertical boost grip you can increase the record time to 13 minutes.
Overall I'm really impressed with new XT-2. Fujifilm has really taken a hard look at what their strengths and weaknesses are and they've specifically tried to improve autofocus and video. The changes that they have made are significant, enough that this camera is now considered to be the best mirrorless camera on the market.
Sony has really put their stamp on the camera market over the last few years. Recently overtaking Nikon in overall full frame camera market sales in the U.S. To continue this momentum, Sony has announced the A9 their newest stills camera that looks to please photographers looking for a properly pro body in a mirrorless form factor. The A9 has a 24-megapixel full-frame stacked CMOS sensor with integrated memory, which gives the A9 data processing speeds that are 20 times faster than any previous Sony full frame camera.
In the real world, the Sony A9 is able to shoot an impressive 20 frames per second with a buffer of up to 241 raw images or 362 JPEGs. Meaning that Sony is clearly targeting action sports and wildlife photographers with the following specs. The A9 also features 693 face detection auto-focus points that cover 93 percent of the sensor's frame, a 3.68 million dot OLED EVF that can run at 120 frames per second, Sony's 5-Axis in-body stabilization, 4K video recording oversampled from a 6K readout, dual SD card slots, and an improved battery life.
Moreover, Sony's Continous view blackout free OLED Tru-Finder claims to deliver distortion-free silent shooting with the electronic shutter, which allows a shutter speed of up to 1/32000 of a second. For their first time in Sony's lineup, it looks like using the electronic shutter for its silent operation is a viable way to shoot with this camera most of the time. Allowing shooting anywhere where the sound of a mechanical shutter could ruin the moment you are trying to capture. While Sony has included 4K video support like in the A7R Mark II its a bit disappointing to see that they have yet to include a log profile in the A9, which would have rounded out the camera's video features very nicely. Since the new stack sensor should perform much better in terms of rolling shutter and the 24-megapixel sensor also makes this a very compelling hybrid stills and video camera on paper. Sony is likely saving the more video focused approach for their next entry in the A7 series of cameras.
Overall the Sony A9 looks to be very well placed in the market to take on Canon's and Nikon's offerings and it is by no means a professional mirrorless camera, considering its new features.
No single company has pushed 4k video like Panasonic, its GH series has represented the best blend of sharp photos and pro-grade video in a single package. When the Panasonic GH4 first came around it was really the only camera to deliver 4k into the hands of the budget indie filmmakers but with the Panasonic GH5, there's a lot of new features.
First of all the build quality is premium. The ergonomics are well-thought-out and it feels great in your hands. Keeping your kit light but also not sacrificing quality is always important for filmmakers and this camera has certainly achieved this goal. You get new 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, 5-Axis In-body stabilization, weather sealing and dual SD card slot all packed in a very compact body. Moreover, this camera supports 48-volt phantom power and includes independent pads, low-cut filters and gains control on each channel. In addition, there is a hot shoe mount on top, enabling you to conveniently mount a microphone or a video light.
The camera opens up a lot of creative options for filmmakers to get creative with their storytelling. Thanks to new high-performance sensor and Venus Engine 10 processor GH5 can now record 4k at 60 frames per second and 180 frames per second in 1080p. Plus it features V-Log profile, which enables videographers to capture images with the same flat color profile found in Panasonic's top line broadcast cameras. Moreover, the dual image stabilization delivers exceptionally great looking video in any situation. Considering all these factors I assume that in 2018, Lumix GH5 will be the most fully featured video-centric mirrorless camera thanks to firmware updates that will unlock even more shooting modes.
Overall the GH5 continues the Lumix tradition of giving videographers everything they'd want in a mirrorless body. When taken as a whole the GH5 is a camera unlike any other, it's not perfect and it's not going to be everything to everyone but Panasonic has pushed the envelope for another generation of GH. It might make your wallet hurt but is definitely the best video cameras you can find on the market today.
Sony A7R Mark III
The Sony a7R III is definitely one of the best mirrorless cameras on the market today and I would suggest this only to people that are professionals or do photography jobs because it is pretty expensive. The camera features 42-megapixel back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, 5-axis in-body image stabilization, and 4K (3840x2160) video. Moreover, a7R has a 3-inch tiltable LCD display as well as built-in Wi-Fi which makes it easy to change camera settings directly from your smartphone or tablet.
Externally the a7R III appears to share the same body and ergonomics as the Mark II but Sony claims that weather sealing is better. The camera inherits some key controls from the Alpha a9 meaning that you get a larger rear wheel with much more tactile feedback than before, plus a new joystick that's perfect for positioning the autofocus area or navigating a menu. Sony also comes with dual SD memory card slots that thankfully now support relay recording. But the most important company has solved one of the biggest issues concerning the battery life. So you'll be delighted to know that they managed to squeeze the latest battery from the a9 into the a7R Mark III smaller body, which means that this upgrades will double the battery life.
The Mark III now features a Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode that captures full raw images shifted by one pixel in each direction, to eliminate false color caused by the Bayer color filter array. Sony also added support for hybrid log gamma HDR when used with a compatible display. The super 35mm 4k mode in 4K still delivers superior quality and thanks to the built-in stabilization now it's possible to capture perfect handhold shots especially if you're using a lens that also has an optical stabilization. 4K is still limited to 30 frames per second, but if you shoot in 1080p you can now do it at up to 120 frames per second. Moreover, the screen is now a touch sensitive and continues autofocus is supported with the silent electronic shutter at 10 frames per second.
Overall the upgrades to the Mark III make it a perfect mirrorless camera for your future project, with the fast autofocus system, better controls, improved battery life and new electronic viewfinder.
So those are my basic kind of starting recommendations for somebody interested in Mirrorless cameras in 2018. The following guide combines all types of cameras for different needs which makes it perfect for anybody. Plus it's important to note that companies are constantly upgrading their lineup and there might be some other models which are pretty good as well. So if you have any recommendations, feel free to leave your comments, suggestions or corrections.